Varicella among adults: data from an active surveillance project, 1995-2005

J Infect Dis. 2008 Mar 1;197 Suppl 2:S94-S100. doi: 10.1086/522155.


We report detailed population-based data on varicella among adults. In 2 US varicella active surveillance sites with high vaccine coverage among young children, the incidence of varicella among adults declined 74% during 1995-2005. A low proportion (3%) of adults with varicella had been vaccinated, with no improvement over the decade of program implementation, suggesting that the decline was likely secondary to herd-immunity effects. Compared with children, adults had more severe varicella in terms of both clinical presentation and frequency of complications. However, <30% of adults with varicella were treated with acyclovir. Among adolescents, illness severity was intermediate between that in children and adults. Varicella cases are preventable through vaccination. As we enter the second decade of the varicella vaccination program in the United States, we need to ensure that susceptible adolescents and adults are adequately protected from varicella by vaccination and that those who acquire varicella are appropriately treated with effective antiviral treatment.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Age Distribution
  • California / epidemiology
  • Chickenpox / epidemiology*
  • Chickenpox / prevention & control
  • Chickenpox Vaccine / administration & dosage
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Humans
  • Immunization Programs
  • Incidence
  • Infant
  • Infant, Newborn
  • Pennsylvania / epidemiology
  • Population Surveillance / methods*
  • Vaccination


  • Chickenpox Vaccine